Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties may be the forefront of Girl Scout cookie season, but the underlying message of the experience is teaching girls how to successfully set and reach their goals.
Though many jump at the mere thought of a Thin Mint melting in their mouth, there are few who will pounce on the opportunity to manage the selling of those Thin Mints. Enter Lisa Sumal: mom of three, resident of Winter Garden, and cookie chairperson for two Girl Scout troops. She works tirelessly during the much-anticipated Girl Scout cookie season, volunteering and striving to make each troop’s experience successful.
Her two youngest daughters, Olivia and Julia, each have sold over 400 boxes of cookies this season. Since Lisa stays home with the girls and their dad, Ken, is an independent business owner, they don’t have an office to pass around the order forms. Instead, decked in uniform and toting order forms, Olivia, Julia, and their mom walk for hours visiting neighbors and friends, door-to-door, to collect orders. Last year, both girls were top sellers in each troop. “This is the only opportunity I can think of where an elementary school child gets the chance to set goals, talk to adults, and make and keep promises,” Lisa explains.
Upon the start of the sales season, Lisa sits down with her daughters to determine goals. They discuss what prize they want to earn, and she takes the time to talk with them about what it takes to achieve those goals.
As the girls begin spending weekend hours at cookie booths and delivering the many boxes they’ve sold, spirits can begin to droop. Lisa capitalizes on the learning opportunity of that slowing momentum. “I tell the girls, they made a promise when they took that person’s cookie order. Their promise was that they’d deliver them their cookies. Sure it gets old after you’ve attempted to deliver an order three times, but those people are counting on them to keep their word.”
In addition to her dedication to her children, Lisa is dedicated to Olivia’s Brownie troop and Julia’s Daisy troop. Managing cookie sales is a bounty of paperwork, time and accountability, to Girl Scout council, the troop, and the children who’ve worked so diligently to earn their awards. She sees her cookie chair role similar to that of a homeroom mom. It gives her the opportunity to show her daughters that she values their investments and interests and to have a voice in helping other children succeed. She emphasizes that whether the Scout sets a goal to sell five boxes or 500, when that child reaches that goal, she realizes a sense of pride and accomplishment because it is something she did. That’s an opportunity at the school-age level that doesn’t often present itself.
Recently, the Sumal girls were sorting toys to donate. One of the girls happened upon the stuffed animal she received last year. With concern, the child said, “Mommy, I know someone would love this stuffed animal, but I just can’t give it up. I worked so hard to earn it. It means too much to me.” That’s how Lisa knows she’s helped instill the value and joy associated with earning something through personal diligence. “It’s more than a silly stuffed animal,” Lisa proclaims. It’s a sign of accomplishment.